Virginia has made history by being the first state in the United States to pass a law that allows robots to deliver merchandise straight to people's doors. While it is true that Virginia has made robotics history, other states are sure to follow. The same law is pending in Idaho and Florida. Therefore, those states could be next to legally have robots on their streets.


The bill was sponsored by two Virginia lawmakers who drafted the legislation. Ron Villanueva and Bill DeSteph teamed up with developers, Starship Technologies, an Estonian-based ground delivery robotics company.

Amazon and Grubhub supported Virginia lawmakers in their effort to get the law passed. The Virginia legislation was signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe on Friday, March 3. The new law becomes effective in Virginia on July 1, 2017.

The robots

A robot cannot weigh over 50 pounds, including the items they are carrying. They cannot travel over ten miles per hour. However, they are permitted to go autonomously. Robots are not allowed on all streets. They are allowed only on streets in a crosswalk. People must look out for the robots at all times because they are not required by law to stay within sight of the person who is controlling it. However, the person controlling it is required to at least remotely monitor the robot and take over if something goes wrong.

Robots will travel at an average speed of four miles per hour when delivering and can deliver items in 5-30 minutes within in a 3-mile radius. They can be tracked on a smartphone and will alert customers when their shipment is ready to be unlocked with their smartphones. Since the robots are powered electronically, they use just a small amount of energy.

Requirements of states

Each state is allowed to regulate how robots will be operated locally. For instance, a city council could impose a stricter speed limit or keep the robots out of their city entirely. Just because by law robots can be in a state doesn't mean they have to be in every city in the state. If local communities find that robots are not working out for them, they can be banned completely from their jurisdiction.

How do you feel about robots being on your streets? Do you plan to use robots for your deliveries?